When Clemson and South Carolina’s men’s basketball teams meet today at noon at the Gamecocks’ Colonial Life Arena, both teams will be looking to make an early-season statement.
The Tigers (4-2) are coming off a 73-61 loss to Purdue and will be aiming for their first win in the series since Dec. 6, 2009. They’ll do so without senior forward Milton Jennings, who is out until Saturday on a suspension for a drug-related arrest.
Crucial in replacing Jennings’ 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game will be 6-foot-8 forward Devin Booker. The senior post presence is averaging 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest, and he’s coming off arguably his two best outings. Booker scored 18 points in the loss to Purdue and recorded his first double-double of the year in the team’s 59-44 win over Marist with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The home Gamecocks (5-2) will also be trying to bounce back from a loss after dropping an 89-65 contest with St. John’s. Senior guard LaShay Page has been the team’s leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game, but he only scored two against St. John’s in limited action.
That’s due in large part to the return of junior guard Bruce Ellington. After averaging double digits in points and three assists or better in each of his first two seasons, Ellington scored seven points in 29 minutes in his first game back from another stint with the Gamecock football team. He’ll remain with the basketball team until the football team starts bowl practice later this month, and he’ll return to the court once the bowl game is over.
Ellington scored nine points in last year’s 58-55 Gamecock victory, behind Damontre Harris and Anthony Gill with 10 points, who transferred to Florida and Virginia, respectively, after the season. Tanner Smith, who has since graduated, was Clemson’s leading scorer with 12.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.